Congressman James E. Clyburn

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Majority Whip Clyburn Announces Staff

January 03, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn announced the Whip office staff for the 116th Congress. 

“This remarkable team of dedicated professionals reflects the diversity of the Democratic Caucus, and they are committed to serving the American people and upholding the values that led to the sweeping changes in this new Congress,” Whip Clyburn said.  “Many of the Whip staff have served this office in the past or bring fresh perspectives and outside experiences that will enhance our operations.”

These are the bios of the new Whip office senior staff.

Yelberton Watkins, Chief of Staff

Yelberton “Yebbie” Watkins, Mr. Clyburn’s long-time Chief of Staff, will serve in that role for Office of the Majority Whip.  A native of Columbia, South Carolina, he grew up in the 6th Congressional District.  He joined Mr. Clyburn’s office in 1993 and has served continuously since then.  Yebbie is a graduate of Duke University and Georgetown University Law School.  He is an Aspen Institute Liberty Fellow, and a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

Lindy Birch-Kelly, Senior Advisor

A South Carolina native, Lindy Kelly has spent more than two decades in the halls of Congress.  She most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Mr. Clyburn’s Washington office.  Lindy has worked for Mr. Clyburn throughout her tenure in Washington, with the exception of one year she was in the United Kingdom as an Ambassadorial Scholar.  She has served in the offices of the 6th Congressional District of South Carolina, the House Democratic Caucus, and the Office of the Majority Whip.  For many years she worked as Director of Special Projects handling all things organizational including special events, CODELS, day to day operations, and strategic scheduling. 

Michael Hacker, Senior Advisor

Michael Hacker will serve as Senior Advisor to the Majority Whip. In this role, he will advise on Whip Office operations, policy, communications, outreach, coalitions and Member services. Mike is a seasoned legislative and public affairs professional with more than 20 years of experience providing Washington counsel to Members of Congress and business leaders and NGOs. He previously served on Mr. Clyburn’s staff from 2006-2011 as Deputy Floor Director and Director of Coalitions.

Ashli Palmer, Director of Floor Operations

Ashli Palmer will serve as Director of Floor Operations for the Majority Whip. In this capacity, she will be responsible for the day to day operations of floor activity.  She is an experienced and widely respected legislative and public affairs executive with public and private sector experiences. Throughout her nearly two-decade career, Ashli has advised and counseled high-ranking members of Congress and their staffs; corporate executives; and worked as a Chief of Staff in the Obama Administration. She previously served on Mr. Clyburn’s Assistant Democratic Leader staff from 2014-2017 as Policy Director.

Craig Link, Deputy Floor Director and General Counsel

Craig Link will serve as Deputy Floor Director and Counsel to the Majority Whip.  He has been Legislative Director and Counsel to Congressman Clyburn since 2015.  A native of Columbia, South Carolina, he started his career on Capitol Hill with Mr. Clyburn as an intern in 2005 while an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina and joined the staff the following year.  After a break to attend law school at the University of South Carolina, Craig returned to the Hill in 2011 to resume his service for Mr. Clyburn.

Tamika Mason, Director of Technology for Floor Operations

Tamika Mason will serve as the Director of Technology for Floor Operations for the Majority Whip’s office.  In this capacity, she will be responsible for all technology used by the floor team to Whip votes. In addition, she serves as the Congressman’s policy advisor on faith and religious issues, and the Democratic Faith Working Group, chaired by Mr. Clyburn.  A native Marylander, she is a graduate of Bowie State University.  Tamika started her Capitol Hill career in 2007 as a Staff Assistant during Congressman Clyburn’s previous tenure as Majority Whip.  Since that time, she has served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Democratic Leader. 

Wintta Woldemariam, Policy Director

Wintta Woldemariam joins the Office of the Majority Whip from King & Spalding LLP, where she was served as Counsel.  Before her time in private practice, Wintta served as Ethics Counsel to President Barack Obama in the Office of the White House Counsel and as an Attorney Advisor in the Department of Justice. Prior to her roles in the Obama Administration, she served as counsel to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).  Earlier in her career, Wintta worked for Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA), and in the Texas State Legislature for Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston). Wintta is a graduate of Duke University and earned her law degree at the University of Texas. 

Matthew Ellison, Deputy Policy Director

Matthew Ellison is rejoining Mr. Clyburn’s office, where he served as a Staff Assistant in the Office of the Majority Whip in 2010-2011 and as a Legislative Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Democratic Leader in 2011-2016. In the years since, he served as Policy and Communications Director of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Legislative Director for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Matthew is a native of Charleston, South Carolina.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Hope Derrick, Communications Director

Hope Derrick brings 20 years of political communications experience to the role of Communications Director for the Majority Whip.  She served as the South Carolina Democratic Party’s first communications director and joined Mr. Clyburn’s staff as Communications Director based in the district in 1995, a position she held for 18 years. Hope returns to political communications after five years at the University of South Carolina working in strategic communications and project management. She is a graduate of Boston University, and began her career as a radio and television reporter in Columbia, South Carolina. 

Ryan Daniels, Deputy Communications Director

Ryan Daniels joins the Office of the Majority Whip staff after serving nearly two years as a Director in the Communications Practice at the Raben Group, where he provided thought leadership and strategic communication counsel to executives and senior leadership from the non-profit, foundation, corporate, and political sectors. Before joining the Raben Group, Ryan held several positions in the Obama Administration, including Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Spokesperson at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and finally as an Associate Director of Communications for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the White House. He began his political career in 2007 as a press intern and then press assistant in Mr. Clyburn’s Majority Whip office.                                                                            

Morgan Butler, Digital Director

Morgan Butler will be joining Majority Whip’s communications team as the new Digital Director.  Originally from Dallas, Texas, she is a magna cum laude graduate of Grambling State University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication. Upon graduating, Morgan joined the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies as their Communications Coordinator. From there, she made the jump to Capitol Hill where she’s served as the Digital Press Secretary for the Joint Economic Committee and the Deputy Digital Director for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democratic Caucus.